IntroductionPhysician Assisted suicide is a method in which terminally ill adults are able to make the decision of ending their lives, with the suffering they are facing through an assisted suicide method. The law Bill C-14, also known as medically assisted suicide (assisted suicide or death with dignity) became legal in June 2016. The strict laws govern access to legal assisted suicide in Canada.
Current Laws According to the Criminal CodeGiven that the law regarding Assisted Suicide is federal, all 10 provinces and 3 territories of Canada refer to the law in the same way.Exceptions/Conditions That May Affect LegalityNo matter how this can help someone with the pain that they are going through, it still has a side to it that can be considered as murdering someone, which causes a question when legalizing this law.Landmark CaseIn the early 1990’s, there was a woman by the name of Sue Rodriguez that suffered from ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis).
She fought for the right for Physician Assisted Suicide (PAS) because she believed that the current laws against it (Section 241B) were constitutionally invalid. On September 30th, 1993, the Supreme Court voted against the legality of Physician Assisted Suicide (PAS), leading Sue to commit suicide, accompanied by an anonymous doctor and an NDP Member of Parliament. After 22 years of conversation in the courts, the Supreme Court legalized Physician Assisted Suicide (PAS). Arguments Made Against Physician Assisted Suicide (PAS)Many individuals believe that creating rights that allow Physician Assisted Suicide (PAS) will provide the government with additional power and medical establishment. Moreover, it is indirectly an assumption that the government will be in full control over the decisions of who lives and/or dies.Physician Assisted Suicide in Other CountriesContrary to Canada as a whole, Physician Assisted Suicide is strictly prohibited in all but 5 states in the United States and is considered illegal. Physician Assisted Suicide is legal in Oregon, Vermont, Washington, California, Colorado and District of Columbia.
The decision to legalize P.A.S. in these 5 given states was mandated by the Supreme Court of Montana, however P.A.S. is not legal in Montana yet.
In Europe, Physician Assisted Suicide is legal in the Netherlands with or without the patient’s consent. This means, the patient’s family members are capable of making the decision for them, whereas in Canada, the decision must directly from the patient themselves. Additionally, legislation in the Netherlands allow parents to make the decision to end the lives of newborns diagnosed with mental, cognitive, and developmental disabilities.Physician Assisted Suicide is currently not legal in Australia and New Zealand. However, there are instances in which illegal drugs produced in Mexico were used in these countries for Physician Assisted Suicide.